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Immigration Issues/H1 transfer to H4, can I transfer back to H1?


Hi, I have the situation right now.
My husband was laid off due to end of Feb and I am holding H1B currently. If he wants to earn more time to look for new job. We are suggested by changing him to H4 (since I am holding H1b) and wait till find a new job then he can transfer to that new company. Can he use his old H1B to transfer to new company? What's the process, process time and limitations? I want to clear some confusion that when he find the new job, the H1B process consider transferring or new application? When can he start to work for new company? How do we consider the time while he is under H4, will the time deduct from H1B's 6 year period? What kind of risk we need to carry if we go through this process?

Thank you in advance to answer my questions.

Eileen Chun-Fruto, Los Angeles immigration attorney writes:

When your husband finds a new H-1B employer, he will need to file a new H-1B application for permission to work with his new employer.  Generally, these applications can at least 2-4 months, and many times, even longer.  It all depends on how busy the USCIS at that time.  

He cannot work for the new company until he gets the approval of the new H-1B application.

You do not deduct the time spent in H4 status from the 6 year total.  I have written about this in another answer, so you can search the term "de-coupling or decoupling."

As for risks of this process, there is always a risk when you file for a new benefit with the USCIS.  However, if your husband has kept in good status throughout his stays in the US, has not and will not work illegally and his H-1B job offer is real and he's truly qualified, then it seems like he'll have an approvable case.

When I talk to clients about chances of success, many things factor in.  Each case and every person has a different set of circumstances.  You will need to work with an attorney who listens to you and can give you a honest assessment of "risks."  

Good luck and hope your husband is able to find a job despite the hardships we are all facing now.

Eileen Chun-Fruto

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Eileen Chun-Fruto


I can answer any employment-based immigration question including questions about PERM labor certifications, H-1B skilled workers, L-1A multinational managers or executives and L-1B specialized knowledge, R-1 and I-360 religious workers, investor cases (E Treaty Trader and E Treaty Investors and EB-5 "million dollar investors") and O-1 extraordinary ability cases. I can also answer any questions regarding family-based immigration, such as adoptions, waiver cases, consular processing (using foreign consulates to enter as an immigrant), marriage and fiance/fiancee cases, 245(i) cases, VAWA (Violence Against Women's Act), battered spouses, and Child Status Protection Act (CSPA).


I have over 12 years of experience in business and family immigration. I was a former law clerk for the Executive Officer for Immigration Review (the immigration courts) in San Francisco and I current serve as the California Service Center's (CSC) liaison on behalf of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. I represent individuals and corporations alike, ranging from professionals in the high tech, science, liberal arts fields. I have a special niche in working with start-up companies and individuals with more complex immigration issues.

Member, American Immigration Lawyers Association Member, Los Angeles County Bar Association, Executive Committee on Immigration

J.D., University of California at Davis - King Hall School of Law (1997) B.A., University of California at Irvine, cum laude (1994)

Awards and Honors
2005, 2006, 2007, 2008: Selected to Southern California Rising Star - Super Lawyers List (an honor shared by no more than 2.5% of the attorneys practicing in the entire Southern California region) Faculty/Moderator on various AILA and LACBA continuing legal education seminars in the following topics: H-1B, O-1, religious workers, business immigration visas

Past/Present Clients
My typical business clients can range from a start-up company, established engineering and software research and development companies, manufacturing, trade and distribution companies, public and private schools, and religious organizations. Family clients include spouses, parent-child petitions, siblings, naturalization, and most especially, representation of abandoned and neglected children viewed as orphans under the immigration law. I have represented many clients who relied on special provisions of the immigration law to preserve or "grandfather" benefits to family members in limited (and complicated) circumstances, to avoid re-application fees and longer waiting times.

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